The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Nicolas Florine

06.07.2020
Nicolas Florine

                                                                  Nicolas Florine

                                                                    (1891–1972)

A construction engineer, one of the pioneers of helicopter engineering who came up with the tandem rotor helicopter. In addition to his work in helicopter engineering field, he invented a three-dimensional image. 

Florine was born to a noble family of an engineer. When he moved to Saint Petersburg he entered the Institute of Railroads and graduated from it in 1914. He was hired as a lab assistant by the Institute and later became a teacher there. 

During the WWI Florine was mobilized. After finishing the Michael’s Artillery School he was in charge of the 33d artillery brigade. As a highly qualified engineer, he was withdrawn from the battlefield and worked as a technician at the Air Force Administration Committee. There he carried out some lab research related to structure integrity.

Florine’s destiny after the 1917 revolution is not quite clear. According to some facts, he left for Germany and then returned. Other facts state that he became a supporter of the Soviet regime and in June 1918 he was appointed the head of the science department of the scientific and technical division at the General Administration of Air Force for Workers and Peasants. In 1919 Florine became a supporter of the White Army and served there as an officer at the Department of Military Messages under the Headquarters of Russian Troops in the Northern region. In 1920 he fled to Finland and later to Belgium. In 1934 he received Belgian citizenship and lived for the rest of his life in Saint-Gilles, Brussels.

After the moving to Belgium Florine continued his work in the field of mechanics and aircraft engineering. The Russian emigrant was well received by the Belgians as a competent and experienced person; therefore, he was offered a job at the aviation department. He established an aerodynamics center on the outskirts of Brussels while his projects were financed by the National Society for Aviation Transport Studies (SNETA). In 1926 his unique scheme was patented and titled “The Florine’s Scheme”: tandem arrangement of rotors (which was later applied for “Chinuk” and “Yak-24”) in order to balance their reactive torque.

The scheme was firstly applied in 1929 when Florine-1, the trial helicopter, was constructed.  The helicopter was the first ever helicopter with two rotors. However, the creation had some flaws and the engineer had to find ways to make the helicopter lighter and improve the transmission.

In 1933 the helicopter called “Florine-2” was designed. It conducted several successful trial flights and broke a number of records. On October 25, 1933 Florine-2 piloted by Robert Collin set a record: it stayed in the air for 9 minutes and 58 seconds. Collin tried to beat the record and fly beyond 18 meters high, but he failed to do so due to an accident where the pilot survived.

“Florine-4” (a quadrotor helicopter with four small rotary wings) was supposed to be built after the WWII. However, the construction was not finalized due to lack of financing by the state.

In addition to his work in the field of helicopter engineering Nicolas Florine also invented a system of three-dimensional image when three lenses coupled to three filters allowing the superposition of colored images.

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